Journal of Threatened Taxa | www.threatenedtaxa.org | 26 April 2019 | 11(6): 13805–13807
Sighting of Arunachal Macaque Macaca munzala Sinha et al., 2005 (Mammalia: Primates: Cercopithecidae) in Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary, Bhutan
Arunachal Macaque Macaca munzala Sinha et al., 2005, described from the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, is amongst the several discoveries from the region during second millennia (Mishra et al. 2004; Sinha et al. 2005).
Morphologically, it is distinguished from rest of the sinica species group with predominantly dark crown patch, characteristic facial marks on the temple and forehead with pale collar hair around the neck and distinctive relative short tail (Sinha et al. 2005). Arunachal Macaque is mostly terrestrial and occurs at an altitudinal range of 2000–3500 m (Sinha et al. 2005). Species is relatively tolerant to anthropogenic activities and dwells in an array of habitats, including degraded broadleaf forest, degraded open scrub forest, agricultural areas, and undisturbed oak and conifer forest (Sinha et al. 2005). In India, species was reported to occur in western Arunachal Pradesh with distribution mostly restricted in Tawang and West Kameng districts of the state (Sinha et al. 2005, 2006; Kumar et al. 2008)
Six species of non-human primates are known to exist in Bhutan. These include Slow Loris Nycticebus bengalensis; Assamese Macaque Macaca assamensis; Rhesus Macaque Macaca mulatta; Himalayan Langur Semnopithecus schistaceus; Golden Langur Trachypithecus geei and Capped Langur Trachypithecus pileatus (Wangchuk et al. 2004; Choudhury 2008). Considering the proximity and continuity of forest cover along borders of Eastern Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh, Arunachal Macaque is also likely to occur in Bhutan (Sinha et al. 2006; Kumar et al. 2008). Although sighting of Arunachal Macaque in Trashi Yangtse and Trashigang districts at an elevation of 900m was reported (Choudhury 2008), its presence and distribution in Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary (SWS) which is connected to Arunachal Pradesh remains unknown (SWS 2016).
According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, Arunachal Macaque is listed under the endangered category (Kumar et al. 2008)
To explore the possible occurrence of the species in SWS, we conducted surveys in the month of December 2016 and January 2017. Sakteng and Joenkhar ranges under SWS were classified into different vegetation types based on Bhutan land use and land cover 2010 data. Further, probable sighting sites for any kind of primates within the study area were gathered from the local inhabitants who are transhumant by profession and have sighted the primates in recent past during their stay in the wild while herding livestock. Survey was conducted based on direct observation along the sighting sites suggested by the local people and in randomly selected suitable vegetation/habitat types.
During the fourteen day survey, a troop of macaques was sighted at Joenkhar-teng (altitude 1723m) in the mixed broadleaved forest near the Gamri River (Fig. 1; Image 1).
We looked for distinct characteristics of the species in the photo and found its resemblance to Arunachal Macaque. For further confirmation we consulted numerous literatures in primates of Bhutan and nearby region (Sinha 2004; Sinha et al. 2005, 2006; Wangchuk et al. 2004; Choudhury 2008; Kumar et al. 2008; Biswas et al. 2011; Chetry et al. 2015; Li et al. 2015) and also sought an identification from Dr Anwaruddin Choudhury and other experts by sending the photographs with other necessary morphological description of the species.
On the account of our observation, photographs and expert’s comment, we conclude that the species recorded at Joenkhar-teng under Joenkhar range is an Arunachal Macaque Macaca munzala Sinha et al., 2005. Local people call it as a ‘Naka-Zala’ (Brami: Forest Monkey) and Borang-Zala (Sharchokpa: Forest Monkey)
Including the sighting of Macaca munzala, SWS is home to 38 species of mammals and hope that addition of the species enhances the prospect of biodiversity conservation and gives more importance to further field research and habitat management.
For image/ figure – click here
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